Coroner probes WA prospector death mystery
The last person to see a couple alive in remote Western Australia remains a suspect in their deaths but has never been charged, an inquest has heard.
Raymond Kehlet, 47, and his wife Jennie, 49, went on a prospecting trip to Sandstone, about 660km north of Perth, in March 2015 with a friend and colleague, Graham Milne.
Mr Kehlet's body was found down a mineshaft about 1.8km north of the group's campsite the following month.
His cause of death could not be determined due to an advanced but uneven state of decomposition, the WA Coroner's Court heard on Monday.
Ms Kehlet has never been found but she is also believed to be dead.
Counsel assisting the coroner Brendyn Nelson said Mr Milne had provided four statements to police and had been interviewed twice but never charged.
"Graham denies having any knowledge of the cause of, or information about, Ray's death or Jennie's disappearance," Mr Nelson said in his opening address on Monday.
Detective Sergeant Stephen Cleal testified every person of interest in the case had been eliminated except Mr Milne.
Mr Milne will testify later during the two-week inquest.
The court heard the couple, who both worked for Fortescue Metals Group at the Cloudbreak mine site, had opted for a job sharing arrangement that would allow them to spend more time working on their farm.
"Ray and Jennie shared similar interests and enjoyed being outdoors and working on their farm," Mr Nelson said.
"They were described as being 'laminated together' and doing everything with (their dog) Ella where possible."
Mr Nelson said the Kehlets spoke to a friend about their prospecting trip and told him they were planning to abseil down old mine shafts to look for gold.
Upon Mr Milne's return home from the trip, he allegedly told his partner there had been no problems at the camp but the dog kept running off.
After the dog was found days later, the Kehlet family became concerned and a search was launched.
The inquest continues.